Whitehall-Coplay Press

Monday, February 24, 2020

Board denies request for S. Church St. sidewalk deferment

Wednesday, January 22, 2020 by Paul Fox Special to The Press in Local News

At the Jan. 13 Whitehall Township Board of Commissioners meeting, the board voted on a number of ordinances and resolutions, including two pertaining to the construction of a new warehouse along South Church Street, just off MacArthur Road.

Representatives from Bohler Engineering came before the board to make their case for an ordinance deferring the construction of curbing and sidewalks on South Church Street. The proposed sidewalk would give pedestrians a path from the site of the new warehouse to the nearby shopping center on MacArthur Road.

Currently, there is no sidewalk on that stretch of Church Street, so anyone making that trip is forced to walk in the street.

Bohler representatives said they would prefer the road not be used as a pedestrian thruway at all, as they deem it too dangerous and find there is currently little foot traffic there.

Adding a sidewalk, they argue, would only encourage pedestrian travel, which they believe should be restricted in that area.

Board Secretary Thomas Slonaker pointed out the occasional pedestrian does walk that way, and he expects the frequency of pedestrian traffic to increase with the construction of a warehouse. Weis Market and Dunkin’ in the nearby shopping center would be clear draws for warehouse employees on a lunch break.

Bohler representatives could not argue against the fact that walking on a sidewalk would be safer than walking in the road.

The board voted unanimously to deny the deferment and insisted the sidewalk be built as part of the warehouse construction as required when the project begins sometime this spring.

The board later voted on a resolution to conditionally approve the land development of the proposed industrial warehouse.

Bohler Engineering estimates a minimum of 150 tractor-trailer trips going in and out of the warehouse per day. The warehouse does not yet have a tenant secured, so those estimates could be different depending on what operation settles into the building.

Board Vice President Joseph Marx Jr. raised his concerns that without knowing who the tenant will be, South Church Street may be in for more truck traffic than it can currently handle. Bohler representatives, as well as Frank Clark of Keystone Consulting Engineers, ensured Marx and the rest of the board all of the conditions will require re-approval once a tenant is secured.

If the eventual tenant exceeds the limitations of Bohler’s current plan, it will have to alter the plan to accommodate those figures. Until that occurs, Bohler is operating under the presumption there will not need to be any major changes to the roads.

After having all their questions answered, the commissioners voted unanimously to pass the resolution approving the land development plan.

Commissioners reappointed a number of civil service positions. Stanley Wimmer was reappointed to the Whitehall Township Authority through 2024. Robert Piligian, Robin Ruhmel and Paul Geissinger were reappointed to the planning commission through 2023.

Boyd Kreglow was reappointed to the Whitehall Township Tax Appeals Board through 2022. Shawn McHugh was reappointed to the Whitehall Township Police Pension Board through 2023. Mario Spagnoletti was reappointed to the Whitehall Township Environmental Agency through 2022.

Board President Philip Ginder thanked Spagnoletti for his 27 years of continued service to the township and commended him for a job well done.

The next meeting of the Whitehall Township Board of Commissioners will be held 7 p.m. Feb. 3.